Stereo Bluetooth is a great innovation for the freedom it grants from cables. I was quite pleased when Apple finally added stereo Bluetooth functionality to the iPhone. Not that being connected to a headphone cable is a huge problem, but it’s nice to be able to set my iPhone on my desk while listening to music, and still be able to move around my office without needing to pick up the iPhone and carry it with me if I’m just moving a few steps to get something off a shelf.
Mobile Action understands the appeal of eliminating wires. Their new Voiis Stereo Wireless Music Gateway adds stereo Bluetooth capabilities to home stereo and computer systems. It has both transmitting and receiving capabilities, so you can use it to stream music from your home stereo to a pair of Bluetooth headphones, or you can use it to receive music streamed from a Bluetooth-enabled device, such as an iPhone, and play it over your home system without needing a dock.
The folks at Mobile Action were kind enough to send us a review unit. Keep reading for our evaluation.
Here are the specifications of the Voiis:
- Dimensions: 120 x 60 x 57 mm
- Wireless Bluetooth class 1 technology for 100 meters range
- Compatible to iPhone 3G (OS3.0/above) and iPhone 3GS
- Temperature range: 0 to 50 degrees centigrade
- Frequency range: 2.40~2.48 GHz
- 1 – year limited warranty
Included in the box are:
- The Voiis unit
- Instruction sheet in multiple languages
- Power adapter
- Stereo Y-cable (3.5 mm to RCA plugs)
- 3.5 mm to 3.5mm stereo cable
The unit itself has a simple design. Encased in white plastic with a black front, the front of the Voiis has just one Function button that controls the connections to Bluetooth devices. Two lights on the front indicate whether the Voiis is in transmitting or receiving mode. On the back of the unit are the power connection and two 3.5 mm jacks – one for input and one for output. The Voiis doesn’t have a power switch or button, so if it is plugged in, it is turned on.
As noted earlier, the Voiis Stereo Wireless Music Gateway supports both streaming to headphones and receiving a stream from another device. If you want to stream music from your iPhone or other Bluetooth-enabled device to a home stereo or set of powered speakers, you simply connect the Voiis to the stereo inputs on your equipment and pair it with your handheld. If you want to listen to music over Bluetooth headphones – say, because it’s late and you don’t want to wake the household or you have young children who may be napping – then you connect the Voiis to the stereo outputs on your equipment.
I first set up the Voiis for streaming to a pair of Motorola Bluetooth headphones. Using the included RCA Y-cable, I connected the Voiis to one of the outputs on the back of an amplifier and then plugged in the Voiis power supply. Next, I paired the Voiis and the headphones. Neither the Voiis nor the headphones have a display of any kind, so I couldn’t see the status, but the pairing went smoothly. The Voiis enters pairing mode for headphones when the Function button is held for 3 seconds. The Voiis found the headphones quickly and made a connection. I put a CD in the CD player connected to the amp, and the Voiis immediately began streaming music through the headphones. As is normally the case with Bluetooth headphones, volume levels are controlled through the settings on the headphones and not through the amplifier.
Next, I reversed the connections. I plugged the RCA cables into one of the inputs on the back of my amplifier and connected the 3.5 mm end of the Y-cable to the output jack on the Voiis. Pairing the iPhone was a little easier because the iPhone has a display, so you can see the status of the connection. To pair the Voiis with an iPhone or other source device (computer, etc.), I had to hold the Function button for 8 seconds.
The sound quality was good both when streaming to headphones and when receiving a stream from my iPhone. I did notice that the line level sent from the Voiis to my amplifier was low compared to other input devices connected to the amp. It wasn’t substantially lower, but it definitely required that I use a higher setting to achieve the same volume from the speakers. This didn’t seem to be an issue when streaming to headphones, however.
The range was good overall. Mobile Action’s specifications claim up to a 100 meter range. Although I wasn’t able to get that much distance, I did get good coverage within the house. I connected the Voiis unit to the stereo in my basement, set it stream to headphones, and then walked upstairs and wandered around the first floor. Only when I reached the far end of the first floor, at the far end of the house from where the stereo was located, did the connection begin to cut out. By that point, there were floorboards and several thick walls between the headphones and the Voiis.
If you want to free yourself from the entanglements of cables and docks, the Voiis Stereo Wireless Music Gateway is a nice addition to your audio line-up. It offers easy setup and pairing, and the fact that it can be used both to stream music as well as receive music streamed from other devices makes it easy to find uses for it.
MRSP: Available from Expansys in the US for $68.99. Check Mobile Action’s site for retail locations elsewhere.
What I like: Easy setup, good range, and good sound quality.
What needs improvement: A power button would be a nice addition.